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White House Announces Nomination of Mignon Clyburn to Democratic FCC Spot

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2009 – The White House announced late Wednesday its intention to nominate South Carolina Public Service Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to the Federal Communications Commission.

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WASHINGTON, April 30, 2009 – The White House announced its intention to nominate South Carolina Public Service Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to the Federal Communications Commission late Wednesday.

If confirmed, Clyburn would fill the Democratic seat being vacated by Democrat Jonathan Adelstein, who has been tapped to run the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utility Service. She would also fill a seat on the FCC that is by custom occupied by a state-level commissioner, previously Republican Deborah Taylor Tate, who was a director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority before serving on the FCC during the Bush administration.

Clyburn, the daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., was first elected to the South Carolina Public Service Commission in 1998. South Carolina PSC members are elected officials who serve four year, staggered terms.

Clyburn has also been in charge of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Washington Action Program for the past three years, coordinating lobbying efforts by state utility commissioners.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps hailed the White House announcement of Clyburn, calling her “an excellent choice” to join the commission. “The experience she brings…will be an invaluable asset as we address the many challenges and opportunities that are before us,” he said.

“Senator [Jay] Rockefeller believes Mignon Clyburn will bring to this position an important rural state-based perspective and an understanding of the federal-state dynamic on regulatory issues,” said a spokesman for Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. “The Committee’s intent is to move expeditiously to consider all pending nominees as soon as their paperwork is ready.”

Industry reactions to the announcement were universally positive.

National Cable and Telecommunications Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow said Clyburn “brings an insightful and pragmatic perspective to the complex policy issues that the FCC is tackling in today’s dynamic telecommunications environment.” Her experience at NARUC will make her “an invaluable asset,” he added.

Clyburn’s state-level experience was also invoked by American Cable Association president Matt Polka. “We look forward to working with [Clyburn] on a host of issues,” he said, “including efforts to extend broadband further into unserved areas and boosting download speeds in underserved communities.”

And Sprint Nextel Corp. spokesman John Taylor said Clyburn “would bring experience, deep policy understanding and the perspective of a state utility commissioner to the FCC.”

“Ms. Clyburn’s knowledge of the telecommunications industry and her extensive background and experience in regulatory policy make her an excellent choice for this important post at the FCC,” said Steve Largent, CEO of CTIA – The Wireless Association.

Other state commissioners were similarly pleased with the announcement. D.C. Public Services Commission Chairman Betty Ann Kane, who serves alongside Clyburn on the NARUC telecommunications committee, said in an e-mail that she was “delighted,” touting Clyburn as being “familiar with the important role that states have in implementing telecommunications, including broadband access for all segments of the community.”

“I look forward to having an experienced colleague with a strong voice for the states on the Commission,” said Kane.

NARUC communications director Rob Thornmeyer said Clyburn would be missed by her peers, but they look forward to working with her in her new role. Clyburn is “a good fit for the job who knows the issues well,” he said.

And when asked about his daughter’s latest job offer, the elder Rep. Clyburn declined to make any policy related judgments, instead offering fatherly praise: “She is very competent and accomplished,” he said, “someone of whom I am very proud.”

Andrew Feinberg was the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.

FCC

FCC Institutes ACP Transparency Data Collection

The FCC stated that it will lean on the newly mandated broadband nutrition labels.

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Photo of people working on computers, cropped, in 2011 by Victor Grigas

WASHINGTON, November 23, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission last week adopted an order that mandated annual reporting from all providers participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal initiative that subsidizes the internet-service and device costs of low-income Americans.

The FCC order establishing the ACP Transparency Data Collection, not released until Wednesday, requires ACP-affiliated providers to disclose prices, subscription rates, and other plan characteristics on yearly basis. The FCC stated that it will lean on the newly mandated broadband nutrition labels, which, it says, will ease regulatory burdens for providers.

The FCC created the Transparency Data Collection pursuant to the statutory requirements of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The commission adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking in June.

Earlier this year, T-Mobile endorsed the nutrition-label method of collection. Industry associations including IMCOMPAS and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Associations warned the FCC against instituting excessive reporting burdens.

“To find out whether this program is working as Congress intended, we need to know who is participating, and how they are using the benefit,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.  “So we’re doing just that.  The data we collect will help us know where we are, and where we need to go. We’re also standardizing the way we collect data, and looking for other ways to paint a fuller picture of how many eligible households are participating in the ACP.  We want all eligible households to know about this important benefit for affordable internet service.”

Although the ACP is highly touted by the FCC, the White House, and industry experts, there is evidence the fund has been exploited by fraudsters, according to a watchdog. In September, the FCC Office of Inspector General issued a report that found the ACP handed out more than $1 million in improper benefits. In multiple instances, according to the OIG, the information of a qualifying individual was improperly used for hundreds of applications, achieving payouts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last month, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., contacted 13 leading internet service providers, requesting details on alleged fishy business practices connected to the ACP and its predecessor, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

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Broadband's Impact

Federal Communications Commission Mandates Broadband ‘Nutrition’ Labels

The FCC also mandated that internet service provider labels be machine-readable.

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Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday afternoon ordered internet providers to display broadband “nutrition” labels at points of sale that include internet plans’ performance metrics, monthly rates, and other information that may inform consumers’ purchasing decisions.

The agency released the requirement less than 24 hours before it released the first draft of its updated broadband map.

The FCC mandated that labels be machine-readable, which is designed to facilitate third-party data-gathering and analysis. The commission also requires that the labels to be made available in customers’ online portals with the provide the and “accessible” to non-English speakers.

In addition to the broadband speeds promised by the providers, the new labels must also display typical latency, time-of-purchase fees, discount information, data limits, and provider-contact information.

“Broadband is an essential service, for everyone, everywhere. Because of this, consumers need to know what they are paying for, and how it compares with other service offerings,”  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. 

“For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products.  We’re now requiring internet service providers to display broadband labels for both wireless and wired services.  Consumers deserve to get accurate information about price, speed, data allowances, and other terms of service up front.”

Industry players robustly debated the proper parameters for broadband labels in a flurry of filings with the FCC. Free Press, an advocacy group, argued for machine-readable labels and accommodations for non-English speakers, measures which were largely opposed by trade groups. Free Press also advocated a requirement that labels to be included on monthly internet bills, without which the FCC “risks merely replicating the status quo wherein consumers must navigate fine print, poorly designed websites, and byzantine hyperlinks,” group wrote.

“The failure to require the label’s display on a customer’s monthly bill is a disappointing concession to monopolist ISPs like AT&T and Comcast and a big loss for consumers,” Joshua Stager, policy director of Free Press, said Friday.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association clashed with Free Press in its FCC filing and supported the point-of-sale requirement.

“WISPA welcomes today’s release of the FCC’s new broadband label,” said Vice President of Policy Louis Peraertz. “It will help consumers better understand their internet access purchases, enabling them to quickly see ‘under the hood,’ and allow for an effective apples-to-apples comparison tool when shopping for services in the marketplace.”

Image of the FCC’s sample broadband nutrition label

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FCC

FCC to Establish New Space Bureau, Chairwoman Says

‘The new space age has turned everything we know about how to deliver critical space-based services on its head.’

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, via fcc.gov

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2022 — The Federal Communications Commission will add a new space bureau that will modernize regulations and facilitate innovation, Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced Thursday.

The new bureau is intended to facilitate American leadership in the space economy, boost the Commission’s technical capacity, and foster interagency cooperation, Rosenworcel said, speaking at the National Press Club.

“The new space age has turned everything we know about how to deliver critical space-based services on its head,” Rosenworcel said. “But the organizational structures of the [FCC] have not kept pace,” she added.

The space economy is “on a monumental run” of growth and innovation, the chairwoman argued, and the FCC must remodel itself to facilitate continued growth. Rosenworcel said the commission is currently reviewing 64,000 new satellite applications, and she further noted that 98 percent of all satellites launched in 2021 provided internet connectivity. By the end off 2022, operators will set a new record for satellites launched into orbit, she said.

The FCC will not take on new responsibilities, Rosenworcel said, but the announced restructuring will help the agency “perform[] existing statutory responsibilities better.” In September, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R–Wash., warned the FCC against overreaching its statutory mandate and voiced support for robust congressional oversight – a position reiterated by House staffers Wednesday.

“The formation of a dedicated space bureau within the FCC is a positive step for satellite operators and customers across the United States,” said Julie Zoller, head of global regulatory affairs at Amazon’s satellite broadband Project Kuiper, on a panel following Rosenworcel’s announcement.

“An important part of [Rosenworcel’s] space agenda is ensuring that there is a competitive environment in all aspects of that space,” said Umair Javed, the chairwoman’s chief counsel, during the panel. “So we’ve taken action to update our rules on spectrum sharing to make sure that there are opportunities for multiple systems to be successful in low Earth orbit.

“We’ve granted a number of experimental authorizations to companies that are doing really new…things,” Umair continued.

The FCC in September required that low–Earth orbit satellite debris be removed within five years of mission completion, a move Rosenworcel said would clear the way for new innovation.

In August, the FCC revoked an $885 million grant to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-broadband service. FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington criticized the reversal, and Starlink has since appealed it.

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